Welcome to HighTail Farms, LLC! We're a small farm located in Greensboro, North Carolina. We are dedicated to providing people with ethically raised and humanely processed pastured poultry and sheep, fresh eggs, and raw meat for pet food. We are currently not producing any products for sale.

Please follow the links in the top bar for more information on our products and their availability. Continue reading below for our blog where we detail the adventures of raisin' animals and whatnot.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Collared Kids

 The baby girls are finally big enough to get collars.

 Francesca is wearing the same color as their mother, and Lucia is wearing Luciano's purple. It just kind of happened that way, but I think it's very fitting as the two girls remind us so much of each of their parents in both personality and markings.

 They have been coming out everyday now for morning and evening chores. Rialey is still very protective of her little charges, never letting the adult goats harass the kids too much.

 Francesca: "I'ma knock you off dis thing!"

"Hey, where'd ya go?"

  The next thing for these girls is some collar and leash training that I probably should have started a long time ago. Life with goats is so much easier when you can grab them by the collar and move them without a fight. We will also start getting them used to being tethered. We would never leave a tied up goat unattended for long, but you never know when you might need to keep a goat in place for a few moments. Lord knows they aren't very good at taking a "stay" command! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homemade Hay Rack

 I'm not sure if I ever shared the pictures of this wonderful hay rack that Big Onion made for us. I needed something that was sturdy and safe for putting hay out for the sheep. They tried to hang themselves with the hay net, and the commercial metal racks are way out of our price range.

 He was actually able to make it from wood and old fencing we had already on the farm. It works like a charm and so far no one has managed to injure themselves on it. The only problem we have is a few of the chickens think this pile of hay is a way better place to lay their eggs than their nest boxes. We didn't notice this was happening until they had laid a good sized nest. I guess we'll have to fashion some kind of netting over the top to keep this from happening.

The best part about it is I can dump an entire square bale into this thing then pull off the strings, and it's good to go! So far there has been very little wastage either.

The Big Onion Hay Holder: Thea tested, Rialey approved. 

Bonus shot of my little Gwenny enjoying some salt/sulphur block. The goats love this thing, and apparently it is good for keeping the flies and ticks away. Thea and Elanore always go and lick the block after their dinner. I guess they are trying to tell me something about the flavor of their food. Picky goats.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Turkey Wing Clipping

The Bourbon Red Turkeys that we hatched this year are now old enough and pen trained enough to run loose with the rest of the flock.

Big Onion had to go out of town recently, and in the process of doing chores alone one evening I didn't realize that some of this group had not gone into their pen for the night.

It wasn't until the next morning when I found a loose turkey trying to get back into the pen with the rest of the group that I realized something wasn't right. One more was pacing and calling from the other side of the fence by the creek. It was in retrieving that bird that I found the mostly eaten carcass of one of the bourbon reds. Rialey found a second dead bird in the tall grass of the pasture. That evening we found the skeletal remains of a third bird floating in the creek. The only thing left on that bird was the wing feathers which I spotted floating under the bridge. It was very creepy looking.

  I'm pretty sure what happened was that a group of these turkeys had flown over the pasture fence then could not find their way back before dark. The turkeys are very good at doing this. They have the sense to fly over one way but are dead set at walking back the way they came. You find a turkey just pacing back and forth, back and forth, calling and staring through the fencing. They are not the smartest of birds.

  This incident coupled with the fact that I actually saw some of the birds flying up and hanging out 30-40 feet up in our pine trees during the day made us decide it was time to clip some turkey wings!

  We used a sturdy pair of Fiskars kitchen shears, and I held while Big Onion did the clipping. It was easier to keep the turkeys on the ground and just brace them against my legs. Unless you flip them upside down, suspended turkeys tend to kick their legs a lot, and nobody enjoys a dirty turkey foot to the face. Trust me.

  You want to only clip one wing. This way the bird is off balance and less likely to get enough air to get itself into trouble. Clipped like this, the birds can still hop up onto the perches in their pens. We like to leave the last few outside feathers for appearances. When folded against the body, it's almost impossible to tell their wings have been clipped.

Here is another set of pictures with a different bird.

As you can see, we just clip those secondary feathers and leave the last 5-6 of the primaries.

The aftermath. 

Since the clipping, we haven't seen any of the birds up in trees or on the wrong side of fences. Luckily it seems that only the teenaged turkeys need this done. None of the other birds having a penchant for getting themselves in trouble like the younger turkeys. 

"Ok, ok, we can't fly over fences anymore, can we have our breakfast now?!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another kid update

 Francesca and Lucia are growing like little weeds. They have horns now! Both of their parents had really nice wide based, outward turning horns so these two girls should have nice sets as well. We don't do any horn removal around here for a lot of reasons not the least of which is the fact that it gets very, very hot here in the summer and horns are thought to help cool the blood.

We are still totally enamored with these two sweet things. Lucia (left) loves snuggles and scratches and giving kisses just like her daddy. Francesca reminds us so much of Josie, their mother. She is opinionated and strong headed and does not like being touched if she can help it. She is also the loudest baby goat I have ever seen! She doesn't just call when she wants something, she yells!

 We have started bringing them out of the backyard and into the first pasture. Here they are learning that duck pool water is too gross to drink while Rialey keeps a watchful eye on her babies!

 Gwen still thinks that she is the baby around here. She has no patience for these newcomers. This picture was taken seconds before she gave Lucia a good headbutt. You can see she even has her hackles up!

 Rialey was not going to let her babies get pushed around for long! Any time the kids are out around the other goats, Rialey keeps a watchful eye and shoos away anyone she thinks might be a threat to them.

 My mother came for a visit recently and aside from buying the world's largest watermelon from a local produce stand...

 and collecting old bottles from the creek bank while looking cute in her new boots....

 she also helped around the farm! She loved bottle feeding the babies...

 and acting as a baby goat jungle gym! Good thing they are still little!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rialey Raking

  Rialey is just over 10 months now, and she is shaping up to be a wonderful farm helper and companion. She does chores with us every day twice a day, and her early maturity and workability have been a godsend since Luna has had some recent (minor) medical issues that have kept her from being able to work on and off. 

  All that said, living with a 10 month old puppy with a huge work drive and an even bigger brain can sometimes be a challenge. I don't always have the time, the energy, or the creativity to give her all the exercise, training, and stimulation that she needs. Last weekend we decided to see if we could tire the pup out a bit by starting pulling training.  

 We received this wonderful, simple pulling harness for Barley as a wedding present from a dear friend. We put it on Barley first to show Rialey how it was done. We figured we could get the pups to help with a bit of yard work while we were at it by attaching an old broken rake to the harness.

  Barley loves pulling in his harness, but he tired out quickly in the heat. Need to get that guy back into condition.

 The harness was a bit large on Rialey, but she wasn't bothered by it in the least. At one point she actually jumped right out of the front opening. I have a feeling she is still going to fill out more as she gets older, and it will fit just fine.

 Meanwhile, Barley took up his post babysitting little Lucia. She was actually leaning on him in this picture. Barley loves his baby goats and considers it part of his job to keep a watchful eye on them. Such a sweet boy.

    Rialey was happy to trot around the yard at my side while dragging the rake behind her. We worked on starting and stopping and making turns.

 Then the goat girls decided to join the fun.

 It's a lot harder to pull a rake that is carrying several pounds of baby goat!

 "Make it go again!"

 I just love Rialey's expression in this picture. This pup is willing to try just about anything I ask of her and does it with so much enthusiasm. She is really, really fun to work with.

  Even though I don't think we succeeded in tiring her out one bit, at least now we have a foundation that might some day with lots more training and conditioning lead to a very useful skill on the farm.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chickens and Eggs

  The business side of the farm has been steadily increasing over time. These days a lot of our income comes from selling our wonderful, pastured chicken and duck eggs. People seem to love them. So much, in fact, that we cannot keep up with the demand. It's actually a pretty good problem to have. 

  It's also a difficult problem to solve as it takes about 6 months to grow a chicken from hatching to laying eggs herself. That means we have a 6 month lag between purchasing new layers and actually getting any eggs from those chickens.

  To that end, we have decided to stop our "heritage broiler" experiment for now. The first big group that we got from breeding our white rock hens with a dark cornish rooster were a lot slower growing than we had hoped. The males turned out a pretty decent size and shape, but the females stayed rather small and compact. They were also predominantly black and dark feathered which makes for a very ugly carcass no matter how carefully you pluck the bird.  

  A few weeks ago, we processed all the males for pet food and our own freezers, and we decided to keep the females as egg layers. We had already put about 3 months of feed into the ladies so why not give them another few months to grow out and start laying eggs for us? Both dark cornish and white rocks are known to be good egg layers, though they do tend to stop laying and want to sit on a nest of eggs ("go broody") more than we would like. 

   We were housing these girls in one of the pasture pens when they were younger. I guess despite the fact that we were moving the pen to fresh ground every couple days, the quarters were a bit cramped so the group started picked at each other's tail feathers. Right now the poor things look like some kind of corgi-chickens. Hopefully their tail feathers will grow in after their next molt. At least it makes them easy to distinguish from the other birds!